Shel Horlick was the President of Schecter Guitar Research. He was a born salesman. Prior to Schecter he generally held sales positions with music equipment manufactures. When I was in high school 74-76, Shel's daughter Brenda was in our musician dominated social group. Brenda was the one in the group with cool parents. We spent a fair amount of time hanging out at the Horlick home off of Laurel Canyon.
I vaguely remember Shel had an association with the Acoustic brand of Guitar amps, he may have been a sales rep for the company. Later he got involved in a company that made Tube amps called Delta. He convinced one of our guitarist friends to buy one of the first of these Delta tube amps.
It was horrible, features didn't work, and it caught fire within the first two weeks. Delta didn't last very long. We all had a cool t-shirt though, the tag line was "Tubes inhale, Transistors Suck". It was sad for us because we knew Shel had some skin in the game, he was an investor/part owner of Delta.
I left for college in the fall of 1976, and when I returned Chris Wooley was working for Brenda's dad at this place called Schecter Guitar Research. My first thought, oh oh, Delta again?
Gene Rushall was a long time friend of Shel's. Gene was a key player/owner in a successful Midwest manufacturing company that was bought out. He took his windfall and moved to California looking to invest in something else. Gene was a silent investor in SGR, he had no defined role or position. He knew nothing about music, he was a little gruff, liked to drink and lived alone.
I've never known the details of the financial arrangement, but you could tell Gene held significant sway. Shel was president, but I remember that if Gene had an opinion on something, all further discussion would cease, and it went Gene's way. He's the one who decided I would replace Chris as the shop manager.
Gene would mostly roam around and count units. He would giggle like a little girl anytime I showed him a new jig or process that resulted in more units per hour.
Here is a picture of Tom Anderson soon after he was hired to boost neck production. Notice Gene in the background, no doubt returning from assessing how many bodies Larry produced now that Tom was doing necks. Kidding, but the only reason Gene had for being where he is was to go count something in the wood shop, bodies or necks.
Shel was the first to meet Dave, and he was closest to Dave. Dave was a tad quirky, he kept to himself in his shop a lot. Shel was in a way Dave's surrogate to the rest of the company. Dave had a fairly serious demeanor, he never socialized in groups with the employees. Shel's personality was loud and boisterous, lots of 'dad jokes'. For some reason their personalities worked together, Shel's over the top demeanor amused Dave. My only memories of Dave smiling were when Shel was acting up. Shel always spoke for De in his absence at meetings and such.
One of the things that Shel did was black chrome. I read recently that Schecter pioneered it. I don't know, but if that is true, that was probably Shel's doing. Dave may have made the initial discovery, but Shel did the subsequent leg work to make black chrome happen.
Mostly that meant getting the electro plate company to re-work their process until the pick guards came out mostly good. Early batches were iffy, you'd get 50% of them usable, the rest had streaks and 'bleached out' looking areas. In the end we were getting 90% usable. The plating company was close by, and Shel spent a lot of time there. He also had to argue and pound some tables in order to make it happen.
The other thing Shel was involved in was hooking up Schecter with Dan Armstrong, which resulted in the Z-Plus pickups and Les Paul Assembly. I remember this period as 'wow a celebrity' was hanging around, although I only knew that because of all the guitar players I was surrounded by.
Dan Armstrong testing the Z-Plus
Sometime in early 1979 Dan Armstrong started hanging around the shop, he had a design for a hum bucker pickup. Him, Dave Schecter Shel Horlick, and I think Tom Anderson worked on prototypes. They did so in my electrNow the typical Schecter replacement pickups were things of beauty, the Z Plus was ugly. It was also completely different it the way it was designed and made. We'd wind coils , soak them in potting wax I think, them completely remove them from a special bobbin.
Then you'd take a rubber mold of the pickup with 12 holes with threads, maybe two turns worth. We'd barely screw 12 set screws into the bottom of the mold. Then two coils, magnets and soldering tabs. The coil wires are then soldered up to the tabs, then the mold is filled with epoxy resin.
Mixing the epoxy was awful, pouring it and cleanup sucked. The epoxy mix was sensitive to weather. Entire early batches were trashed. The epoxy would cure differently near the metal set screws, so a lot of times we'd get a nice pickup, except it looked like the set screw pole pieces were stuck in wet glue. They'd look like that forever.onics shop after hours or during the day if there was space to work. I was expected to manage the production of these things so I got my hands wet during development.
Now I'm not a musician, but I did read a post of someone who had a complete Z Plus assembly in a very nice Les Paul and he loved the sounds he could get. Back in the day, everyone raved, but everyone worked at Schecter, so.....